SaaS products are continuing to gain traction in the market, with everyone getting a share of the revenue pie. Hardly surprising since most products arise from existing businesses being commoditised, or by addressing and improving on pain points on already available solutions.
When you build a SaaS product, the chances are, you have already considered building it on the cloud to achieve scale.
In this article, we are going to cover the 4 most important things you need to know (even if you’re not a techie) on how to build a cloud-based SaaS architecture, deal with scalability, and what this means for your end product.
1. Pick the right programming language
Most technical founders prefer to work with a programming language they are familiar with.
Realistically, that’s probably not the best approach. Building a SaaS product means you need to be relevant, current and make use of a modern programming language. The choice of language should be dictated by the possibilities of each language, and what matters the most to your product.
2. Get the right database in place
Getting your database choice right is the single biggest decision you will need to make. While traditional relationship databases might work for you, it’s more likely that you will need a Document-oriented database for your product to allow your business to scale over time.
Document databases get their information from the data itself. This allows greater performance, higher availability and more flexibility for changes; and often reduces database size. Who wants a slow database any way?
Mongo DB is the leading choice for startups, not only because it’s built to handle scale, but also since it uses sharding to manage database sizes.
Sharding is a database partitioning method that separates very large databases the into smaller, faster, more easily managed parts called data shards across multiple machines for improved performance
Using Mongo DB also allows you to follow a master / slave architecture with your database instances geo-localized based on your traffic sources.
This allows your master DB to handle writers, which gets replicated on the salves automatically by MongoDB. While the slave DBs utilize read preference to avoid queries across the globe, and keep network delays as low a possible.
Outside of all of this, it’s possible that combination database is what works best for your product. Be sure to talk to a database consultant to find the right approach!
3. Plan a Queuing System
A message queuing system is an asynchronous communication protocol, enabling the sender to communicate with various 3rdparty services independently at different times.
In a queuing system, a message (or query sent out to the a 3rd party service via an API) is placed into a queue and stored there until the receiver retrieves it.
This allows web servers to respond to requests quickly instead of being forced to perform resource-heavy procedures on the spot. Message queuing is also good when you want to distribute a message to multiple recipients for consumption or for balancing loads between workers.
Queuing systems are third party tools which need to be picked out based on your specific requirements. For higher transaction products, optimal configuration might include having a two queuing servers in place, where the second one acts as a failover, hidden behind a load balancer.
4. Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Building a scalable web app means you’ll end up using AWS sooner or later. Probably sooner! So here’s the basics you’ll need to put in place
The Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is a must-have and is central for any product needing resizable computing capacity. AWS enables you to host and run your web apps as well as conduct massive high-performing batch jobs.
The great thing is that EC2 servers are spread across the world. Depending on your need to scale and which geographic markets to target first, you can select between various locations of your EC2, and keep adding new servers and resources as your product demand grows
Web Storage S3
Scalable storage means you pay only for what you use. Besides storing data of your web app with S3, it work great for backups, archives or big data analytics as well
Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN) is basically a system of distributed servers which enables you to serve content to your app users with high performance and high availability based on their present location and the location of your EC2 instance. End result? Faster data delivery and happier customers!
But there’s a lot more to consider. Having the right processes in place including continuous integration and automation will increase your efficiency and reduce time to market. Proper performance monitoring tools and analytics software are also a must-have to ensure stability and keep the final product optimized. For more in-depth advice on how to get going on a global scale, get in touch with us at [email protected]